OUT OF SHEER RAGE: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence by Geoff Dyer

OUT OF SHEER RAGE: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence

Email this review


Dyer writes two books at once, his own life and a challenging life of D.H. Lawrence, in this unique performance. This wrestling match with Lawrence reveals the author and his subject as finely matched opponents who ultimately shake hands on the nature of life and art. Dyer's record of his time spent exhaustively studying Lawrence is both tormented and comic. He ""rages"" at his very goals and against the compulsion to write, while also tracing, intermittently, Lawrence's own life's itinerary. In a sense, the project is a doomed undertaking. For could there be any less auspicious literary pursuit than formalizing the process of going ""from making notes on Lawrence to making notes for my novel, by which I mean not working on my book about Lawrence to not working on the novel because all of the to-ing and fro-ing and note-taking actually meant that I never did any work on either . . .""? Chagrined by his ambivalence, seduced by his indecisiveness, Dyer aspires to the ""floaty indifference of contentment"" and comes to prefer Lawrence's manuscripts to the final texts. He longs for freedom, yet his gateway into Lawrence comes in a moment of raging indolence. Convinced that Lawrence's ""writing urges us back to the source,"" Dyer traces the other writer's footsteps. Taos and Oaxaca, Sardinia and Eastwood are important backdrops along the way. Such scenery lures Dyer into a dialogue with Lawrence's mentors and tormentors and into the heat and chill of the arguments they waged. Larkin, Brodsky, and Julian Barnes are poetic referees in the ring. The push-me-pull-me here of the text and the sub-text, of biography and autobiography, turns up the volume on this fascinating symbiosis, which casts a new light on creativity and the importance of destiny.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: "North Point/Farrar, Straus & Giroux"